Horror on TV is going through a renaissance. Actually, TV itself is going through a renaissance and just happens to be embracing horror in a big way – perhaps due to the fact that cable shows don’t have to be adherent to network standards and practices and can embrace darker themes as well as, you know, blood.
That doesn’t mean that all good horror on TV has been a part of the current “golden era,” there are still plenty of old gems. And, just like movies, I reserve the right to change up my preferences on a day-to-day basis. I don’t believe in absolutes, moods change. If written tomorrow, this list would be different. A few other warnings, I don’t like ”The Walking Dead” – just preparing you in advance. I should also note that I haven’t seen enough ”Supernatural” to really make a call on it, though I do like what I’ve seen so far.
Head below for My 5 Favorite Television Horror Shows!!!
Notice to American Horror Story – you are on probation and are in grave danger of falling off of this list forever. While I loved the pilot for Coven and a few of the episodes that immediately followed it, the back half of this season was a shocking, monumental letdown. What worked so well for the initial episodes – not giving a f*ck – came back to bite the writers of this show in the ass when it came time to wrap things up. Perhaps planning ahead is a good idea? Mr. Disgusting is correct when he diagnoses the show with “Heroes Syndrome” – if death isn’t permanent (and in this case it’s almost always reversed) where are the stakes? Right now AHS is clinging on to its ranking by the fingernails of its glorious first season, since retitled Murder House.
Buffy wasn’t always a horror show tonally speaking, but it certainly had enough creatures and horror tropes to ensure itself a place in our hearts. It also happened to be an amazing show, period, regardless of genre. After a rocky start in Season 1, Joss Whedon’s calling card ultimately found its footing in its spectacular second season. Looking at it now, a lot of newcomers might be turned off by the show’s meager budget and jovial attitude, but it was the warmth between the characters and their believable relationships that kept this narrative spinning for seven years. Some seasons may have hit the mark more than others, but there was never a dud.
I don’t know how I got away with watching this as a kid. Maybe the Crypt Keeper’s cartoonish presence somehow convinced my Mom what I was in the hands of safe entertainment before she headed out of the room, but this macabre anthology series became part of my very DNA growing up. Decades later, episodes like the Demi Moore (and Jeffrey Tambor) starring “Dead Right” and the Lance Henriksen infused “Cutting Cards” still pepper my thoughts. For a good long while, these were the strongest morality tales and fables that cable had to offer.
This 1987 series fizzled sort of quickly and, to be honest, I don’t remember very many specifics from it. What I do remember, however, was my absolute burning need to see it. I would absolutely lose my sh*t as a kid if we got home late on whatever night this aired (this was back in the day of VCR programming, something beyond my childish capabilities). Something about this show resonated with me so deeply that I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it here. Also, it had four-legged werewolves – a design I’ve always preferred over the bipedal “wolf man” iteration of the creature.
If you try to tell me this isn’t a horror show I will fight you in the street. This modern day masterpiece written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga might be wrapped up in the skin of a procedural, but it’s about so much more than that. It might have less gore than something like “Hannibal” (though it does have antlers), but the black heart beating at the center of it is more horrifying than just about anything. Occasionally riffing on Robert Chambers’ “The King In Yellow,” this is the only show on this list that is actually capable of scaring me at the moment. It doesn’t make me afraid for my safety or things that go bump in the night, it makes me afraid of what we all have inside of us and the fate that awaits mankind itself.